Helping Your Child with Literacy
Ideas to use at home
Helping your child with reading
The dark, autumn nights are upon us which gives us a great opportunity to catch up on some reading. Children value reading through watching members of their family read and write every day. Encourage your child to read anytime, anywhere.
Children often enjoy reading more if it is shared. Make time away from television and interruptions to read aloud with your child.
Encourage your child to read by sharing such activities as:
• reading signs and posters.
• checking the television guide.
• choosing a video.
• using a recipe.
• reading game rules.
• reading the newspaper aloud together.
• playing word games including crossword puzzles.
• reading instructions.
• finding brands at the shops.
• reading magazines, comics, poems and rhymes.
Listen to your child read every day. Here are some ideas to use now and then, but remember some reading should just be for pleasure:
• look at the cover, title, pictures and talk about what the book might be about.
• talk about the story so far and what might happen next.
• after reading, talk about the story and ask questions.
• talk about the pictures and how they add meaning to the text.
• take turns when reading a harder book.
Remember the three Ps for new words: pause, prompt, praise.
That is, allow your child time to work out the word (pause), use clues taken from the context (prompt) and praise your child for trying.
If necessary, however, simply tell your child the word.
Helping your child with writing
Read your child’s writing or have him or her read the writing to you and comment on the positive aspects. For example, “I really like the way you’ve described this.”
• Praise your child for having a go at writing words that are new and explain how to spell words which are causing difficulty.
• Talk to your child about the choices an author or film maker might make to create a book, play or film in a particular way. Talk about language choices and why characters look or behave in certain ways.
• Read and talk about the writing that your child brings home from school.
• Praise your child for using neat and legible handwriting.
• To help develop spelling and vocabulary, play word games such as I Spy, Scrabble, Boggle and crosswords.
• Have your child label things that he or she designs or makes.
• Make a photo album or scrapbook with your child and have him or her write captions for the photos and pictures, or encourage your child to keep a diary of a special event, e.g. a holiday diary.
• Make the writing of notes, letters and stories a normal part of family life.
• Involve your child in helping to complete forms.
Helping your child with spelling
Many writing activities are related to spelling. Help your child with those areas of spelling with which you feel confident. Remember that not all English words can be spelt correctly by “sounding out”, e.g. the words “you” and “said”.
• Talk about how you spell and what you do when you don’t know how to spell a word.
• Have your child write at home, e.g. writing shopping and birthday lists, filling in forms, writing notes to family members, writing phone messages and reminder notes, replying to letters or sending cards.
• Provide a dictionary and use it together. Remember that dictionaries are more useful if your child has a knowledge of the alphabet and how a dictionary works. Talk about how you need to use the dictionary sometimes.
• Encourage your child to practise new words, say them, write them from memory, then check them.
• If your child can’t find a strategy to help spell the word; simply tell them how it’s spelt.
• Encourage your child to try to spell new words, then praise the parts that are correct, and suggest what else is needed. For example, if your child has written “litle” for “little” you might say, “You have five of the six letters right. One of the letters should be doubled. Can you tell which one it should be?”
• Teach your child that spell checkers can be useful but are not always effective, e.g. when the child types a word that sounds the same such as “sure” for “shore” or when the computer uses American spelling.